Category Archives: Travel

Latest Work 6-11-2019: New Crochet Dishcloth Pattern + New Middle East Travel Guides

Tunisian Crochet Mesh Dishcloth and Washcloth + Mosaic Art From Baltimore Park in Ashkelon, Israel

Tunisian Crochet Mesh Dishcloth and Washcloth + Mosaic Art From Baltimore Park in Ashkelon, Israel

I’ve designed zillions of different crochet stitch patterns. In 2015, I decided to compile them into a crochet stitch dictionary.

As I was working on that, I discovered the stitch pattern you see pictured above — the Tunisian crochet mesh stitch. I say “discovered” because I am sure others before me must have found it first. It’s one of the easiest possible variations of afghan stitch, consisting of afghan stitches alternating with yarnovers.

I became so enthralled with this stitch that I got sidetracked from working on the stitch dictionary — instead designing project after project after project with this stitch.

Then I gave birth to my daughter, and I put all the projects plus the stitch dictionary on temporary hold as motherhood consumed all my energy.

Years later, I am realizing this is still my favorite crochet stitch pattern. It’s FAST. It’s easy. It’s drapey and lovely. The possibilities for colorwork with this stitch are incredible — which is why it has held my attention for so long. You wouldn’t guess that by looking at this pic, which is just a couple of plain white dishcloths. But working on this type of plain, solid-colored project is the best way to learn the stitch. Once you’ve mastered it, to the point you can work it on autopilot, you’re better equipped to interpret the instructions for colorwork patterns made using this stitch.

In the next few days, I will be sharing a free crochet pattern for these dishcloths / washcloths. My newsletter subscribers will be the first to know when it is released.

On a different note: I just posted an Ashkelon, Israel travel guide here at my website. I took this photo at Baltimore Park, a little-known park in Ashkelon. This park is home to some remarkable mosaic art that deserves a broader audience than it’s getting. At the park, you’ll find an outdoor mosaic art exhibit that was curated by the late Ilana Shafir. Shafir is world famous for her incredible, tactile mosaic work.

You’ll also find a series of fascinating, mosaic-covered structures that I guess are supposed to be benches — but I discovered that they also make good backgrounds for photographing my crochet projects.

Here you can see the mosaic benches in Ashkelon's Baltimore Park.

Here you can see the mosaic benches in Ashkelon’s Baltimore Park.

In this picture, you can see a couple of the things I've been talking about. These texting gloves show you an example of a colorwork pattern you can crochet using the Tunisian crochet mesh stitch. And they're photographed  at  Baltimore Park, with one of the mosaic benches as a backdrop. I LOVE how all the elements of this picture came together.

In this picture, you can see a couple of the things I’ve been talking about. These texting gloves show you an example of a colorwork pattern you can crochet using the Tunisian crochet mesh stitch. And they’re photographed at Baltimore Park, with one of the mosaic benches as a backdrop. I LOVE how all the elements of this picture came together.

I’ve spent many blissful hours enjoying the mosaics and the ambiance at this park.

If you have a chance to travel to Israel in the future, don’t overlook Ashkelon as a possible stop on your itinerary. Ashkelon is home to some of the most remarkable public spaces and art and antiquities I’ve yet observed in the course of my travels.

  • אשקלון#
  • ישראל#
  • #הסרוגה
  • #פסיפס

About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at ArtsWithCrafts.com, KnittingandCrochet.net and Crochet-Books.com. Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.

This page was last updated on 7-3-2019.

5-8-2019: Visiting Family; Crochet Lace; New Pineapple Passion Crochet Book; More

The Narrows and the Virgin River at Zion National Park -- Photo courtesy of Karan Chawla at Unsplash.com.

The Narrows and the Virgin River at Zion National Park — Photo courtesy of Karan Chawla at Unsplash.com.


Hi there! Welcome! Thanks for dropping by. I hope you’re enjoying a lovely, productive and creative day.


I’m having an eventful week so far. This past weekend, my in-laws came to Utah for a visit with us. That was soooo much fun, especially for our daughter, because Grandma spent most of the trip playing with her.

We last saw my in-laws about 7 months ago when we went back to California for a mostly-business trip that also included a limited amount of socializing. At the time, Mike’s parents were busy with some important business of their own, so we didn’t get to spend much time with them then.


One of the highlights of this past weekend was a trip to Zion National Park, which I will hopefully write about in more detail in the future. The best part about it: The park staff really does an outstanding job of making the park as accessible as possible to everyone. I loved that!


There’s nothing like travel to renew my spirits and inspire my creativity. Now I’m back home, and I’m feeling energized and motivated to get back to work. I have a couple of ghostwriting articles at the top of my to do list. I’ve also been updating some of my own web pages and adding new ones. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on:

Pineapple Passion, a Brand New Crochet Pattern Book by Karen Whooley

Pineapple Passion crochet pattern book by Karen Whooley, published by Occhi Blu Press

Pineapple Passion crochet pattern book by Karen Whooley, published by Occhi Blu Press


I’ve been a big fan of Karen Whooley’s since, I think, 2010, when I reviewed her amazing book called Fair Isle to Crochet (a book I still highly recommend if you’d like to crochet colorful blankets for anyone in your family).


Karen has just released a brand new and totally different sort of crochet pattern book. This one focuses entirely on wearable crochet lace projects that all incorporate updated versions of the classic crochet pineapple motif pattern. It’s a lovely concept for a pattern book — and I think Karen was the ideal designer to bring it to fruition. She has an eye for taking things that can seem complex, and distilling them down to the ultra-simple essentials you need to understand (without cluttering the book’s pages with any of the extra stuff that could trip you up or confuse you).


One of the most helpful things about the book: It includes symbol crochet charts in addition to written-out text instructions.


If this sounds like a book that would be of interest to you, I invite you to find more information about it in my detailed book review of Pineapple Passion..

My Picks for the Best Crochet Lace Pattern Books

Pineapple Passion has reminded me how much I adore crocheting lace. I love the dainty look of it — and I love how well it tends to drape and flow.


I also love how fast crochet lace typically works up. Often, crochet lace stitch patterns incorporate bunches of chain stitches, and chain stitches tend to work up fast. I suppose that makes sense. It’s quicker to make “lace holes” than it is to make solid crocheted fabric.


But, sometimes, the zippy-quick lacy stitch patterns are offset a bit if you use thin, fine yarns to work them with. Those fine yarns just take some extra time and attention to crochet with, and they can be a bit fiddly. But, since you also tend to get a more spectacular project when you crochet with finer yarns, I think that’s an excellent tradeoff overall.


Anyway, I bring all this up because I have been going through my entire collection of crochet pattern books and pulling out all my picks for the best crochet lace pattern books that are currently available. No, I don’t own every last crochet lace pattern book ever published, but I do have quite a few of them. So, if you enjoy crocheting lace too, I invite you to check out my page on the topic at crochet-books.com.

No Walk Today Because…It’s SNOWING!

In other news, would you believe it is currently snowing in Brian Head? Yep. I thought we were finished with snow, but this morning we woke up to a few more inches — and it’s been flurrying on and off all day. According to the Utah ski resort weather forecast, it looks like some of the other ski resorts like Park City are likely to have thunderstorms.


Our little family tries to take a walk together every day, but today the walk is officially canceled. Bummer.


That’s all for now.



XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX,

Amy

About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at ArtsWithCrafts.com, KnittingandCrochet.net and Crochet-Books.com. Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials. If you’re already an Instagram user, Amy also invites you to follow her on Instagram.

This page was last updated on 7-3-2019.

Scrapbooking Layout: Brian Head, Utah. Supplies by Reminisce.

My husband and his friends are really into mountain biking. This past August, we took a trip to Brian Head, Utah, so they could ride in a race that was taking place there. I actually took my bike along for the trip too. It was so much fun, even though I fell off my bike a bunch of times and got totally scraped, bruised and sunburned.

Normally when I go on these trips I take a camera, but not a bike. These guys are really experienced riders, and I am not. I do enjoy riding the trails with my husband, but it’s not as much fun for me when he gets together with a bunch of hardcore riders and they decide to ride down really insane terrain. To that, I say, “No thanks!”


I usually have more fun taking photos of them than I would have if I were attempting to ride with them. I took quite a few photos on this Utah trip~ almost 1,000 photos all together. No, I am not going to scrapbook them all. 😉 But I am picking out all my favorites to print and scrap.

It was sooooooooooooo beautiful up there in the mountains, and it was hard to take a bad picture up there. Everywhere I looked, there was gorgeous scenery. Pretty incredible! Utah is just spectacular.

The rider pictured in this scrapbook layout is my husband. For his cycling layouts, I try to keep it simple- definitely no paper lace, ribbons, or Prima Flowers. The truth is that my husband would rather just have his photos stuck in albums. He does humor me with my scrapbooking, but I try not to press my luck and go too crazy with embellishing his bike photos. 😉


Interestingly enough, I’ve found that he seems to like the layouts I’ve been doing lately with Reminisce’s Great outdoors line. The papers are really ideal for this kind of layout — much better suited than the few-and-far-between bike-themed papers that I’ve seen. I do dream about the day when someone will release a downhill mountain biking themed collection, but until then the Great Outdoors line is the next best thing.

Supplies Used To Create This Scrapbooking Layout:

  • Camping Alphabet Stickers: by Reminisce, from the Great Outdoors Collection
  • Wilderness Map / Trail Map patterned paper: by Reminisce, also from the Great Outdoors Collection
  • The Great Outdoors Journal Stickers by Reminisce
  • The strip of Camouflage patterned paper is by K & Co.
  • Black Sharpie Marker
  • Gray Cardstock
  • Fiskars Paper Edgers — I think this design is called “Mountains”. It seemed appropriate. This particular design is now hard to find, but you could substitute either a pair of pinking shears or a different pair of paper edgers. There are a zillion of ’em. If you are doing a “guy” layout like this one, it’s a good idea to avoid the ones that are too froofroo, but you have quite a few choices available.

Mountain Biking: Brian Head, Utah NMBS Races (+ Crash Photos)

My husband, Mike, mountain biking in Brian Head, Utah

My husband, Mike, mountain biking in Brian Head, Utahbria

Three of us, plus four bikes, made a road trip from Santa Barbara, California up to Brian Head, Utah for the NMBS (National Mountain Bike Series) mountain bike races. I did ride on this trip, but I didn’t want to race; instead, I spent most of my time taking pictures of the riders on the mountain.


In all, I ended up taking more than 1,000 photos. I shot most of them during the practice runs the guys were taking down the pro course.

This was an interesting course, because there were 2 choices for the line you could take down. There was a “hard” line which took the riders down over a bunch of rocks plus an insane drop. My photos really don’t do this spot justice at all~ they fail to convey how big the drop was.


My opinion: You’d have to be a NUT CASE to ride a bike down that!


And then there was the “easy” way down, which was not easy, either, by any stretch of the imagination. I overheard more than one rider saying that the hard way was actually easier than the easy way, all things considered.


On the other hand, all the crashes I witnessed ~ and there were quite a few of them ~ Took place on the harder spot.


So, I thought I’d share some crash photos with you all. Here are some highlights:

Brian Head Utah Downhill MTB Crash: Brad Jensen #598

Here we have some photos of Brad Jensen, an Oneal / Azonic sponsored rider who raced the men’s expert-master 45-49 class.



Brad started off strong…
Downhill Mountain Biking in Brian Head, Utah
Looking good so far…
Until right about here, when all of a sudden I’m thinking that something looks amiss.
The Pro Downhill Mountain Bike Course at the National MTB Race in Brian Head, Utah
WHOOPS!
AAAAAACKKKKK. Who put that hay bale there?Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, Utah

OUCH!!!

Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, Utah

Double ouch. Nothing like getting whacked by your own bike.


Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, UT

Right about now, I have to ask, where’s the rest of your padding, Brad? Are you nuts? Dude, if you’re going to ride down insane terrain like this, get some elbow pads. Seriously. A longer pair of protective Shin guards wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.


Downhill Mountain Bike Crash in Brian Head, Utah

We’re SO RELIEVED to see you got right back up! Major props. That looked like quite a spill. Hope you didn’t suffer any lasting injuries after that one.

Unidentified Rider Crashes During the Practice Runs for the National Mountain Bike Series Races in Brian Head, Utah

Despite making a valiant effort to identify this rider, I was unable to figure out who he is — but I sure would love to know. If this is you or one of your friends, please comment and identify him so we can give him the props he deserves for this spectacular crash. Thanks! 🙂



He’s approaching the drop.
Downhill Mountain Biker Bombing Down the Mountain in Brian Head, Utah

Did I mention, you’d have to be a complete maniac to even attempt this trail?

Not kidding. My photos do not do it justice. It’s impossible to get a sense of just how big and insane this part is unless you actually stood at the top, looking down.

OK, so he launched off of it… Not bad, so far. Looking good…Will he land this?


The Downhill Pro Course at the National Mountain Bike Series Races in Brian Head, Utah

Looks like he’s clearing that sketchy spot here. YES! Rock on!
Expert Downhill Mountain Biker in Brian Head, Utah
Wait a minute…wait a minute…UH-Oh. Here’s something you don’t see every day ~ an expert mountain biker face-planting right into a bale of hay.
MMMMMmmmmm. Yummy hay!
Expert Mountain Biker Crashing on the Pro Course in Brian Head, Utah

Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Mountain Biker Crashes into a Hay Bale During Practice Runs for the NMBS Mountain Bike Races in Brian Head, Utah

Let’s take a closer look at that.
Oh my.
Yep, looks painful.
Expert Mountain Biker Crashing on the Pro Downhill Course at Brian Head, UT
WhoooHOOOOO!!!! Super stoked to see him get up after that.Expert Mountain Biker Crashed on the National Mountain Bike Series Races Pro Course in Brian Head, Utah

Great crash, dude. Hope you are not too banged up, bruised up or scraped up after that!

I am wondering at this point, is there anyone who raced the downhill pro course at Brian Head who didn’t crash? I saw plenty of injuries, scrapes, bruises, and ripped jerseys. (If you need to buy a new jersey because yours got too thrashed, make sure to check out the cycling gear comparison search engine Mike programmed at xc-mountainbike.com to buy the best gear at the best prices.)

Our Race Results

Chris W. was planning on racing the downhill course. Mike wasn’t planning on racing, or maybe just racing the Super D. But in the end that’s not how things worked out.

Mike didn’t bring a downhill bike, so he wasn’t sure if he would be able to race the downhill course. Then when he actually saw the downhill courses, he thought the sport class downhill trail looked easily do-able on his bike, so he decided to go for it. And he definitely wanted to race the Super D too after seeing how much fun that trail was.

In the end, the Super D got rained out and rescheduled to a time that conflicted with his downhill race, so he just ended up racing the downhill. And got a flat. Bummer!

His time wasn’t bad, considering the flat. And he did walk away with a medal.

Chris, on the other hand, hadn’t been planning on racing the Super D until Mike told him how much fun the Super D trail was. He had just been planning on racing the downhill. So he did race the Super D, but never made it to the downhill. Here’s what happened to Chris just hours before his downhill race:

Funny, because I’d been taking plenty of crash photos of everyone else eating dirt, and Chris had been laughing his head off. I told him, “Dude, make sure you don’t do anything stupid unless I have the camera there to take photos of it.”

Did he listen to me? NO. 🙁 So I don’t have any photos of his crash, although I do have plenty of pics of him where he made it down the mountain just fine. He made it look easy.

Chris riding the pro course at Brian Head, before his big crash

Chris riding the pro course at Brian Head, before his big crash

That’s my friend Chris for you…he was nuts enough to ride a bike down that, and he has the cast to prove it.


The injury put a damper on what was otherwise an epic trip. We’re definitely planning to ride Brian Head again — wouldn’t hesitate to go back (although you won’t find me attempting that pro course any time soon — NO WAY!)


Thanks for stopping by! Hope you are enjoying your week, and that you’re getting plenty of riding time in… Be sure to check back soon for even more crash photos, plus a lot of pics of guys that actually made it without crashing. 🙂 Brian Head, Utah, Aug 2008…FUN times and (mostly) happy memories. 🙂